If you have ever wondered what makes an amazing photograph, Ruth Grindrod may have some answers. On Friday 14 October Ruth gave an inspiring Zoom talk to Ilkley Camera Club. She was speaking from her home in Norfolk and revealed some of the secrets that go into prize winning images. The talk was appreciated by members for its thorough and informative exploration of tone, light and colour.
Ruth Grindrod is in accomplished photographer having won the Scottish Nature Photographer competition in 2019 and was a winner in the 2021 Landscape Photographer of the Year awards. She believes it’s important to take photos you enjoy and not the ones you think are fashionable. “Please be your own person and not a copy of others”
In a a very full and detailed presentation, her talk focused on how light influences the colours, tones and textures in a scene, “these are the elements that work together to poentially make your pictures amazing”, she said. Ruth talked about seasonal light from a wide range of locations including Winter light in Iceland, the tranquillity of the Norfolk Broads, and the drama of waterfalls in Yorkshire. “The sky and clouds contain a wide range of course, far more than you would imagine. There are not just blues in the sky but also oranges, yellows and ocre”
On the subject of texture she says it’s often overlooked by photographers, textures can be pretty meaningless, but combined with elements of colour and tone, a great image can be made.”
She firmly believes texture can be a real treat that compells you to look at nature in more detail. For example, the roughness of rock, the silkyness of water and the smoothness of sand combined with colours and tones can make a great landscape photo.
Ruth showed members a wide range of her photography including seascapes, woodland scenes and abstract images.
Showing a painting by Constable, Ruth talked about the use of colour theory to enhance photos. Understanding the colours and tones used by the great masters can be helpful for our photography. Ruth explained that while there is a temptation to use very bright colours in our photography, she demonstrated that John Constable used very muted colours, building up the colours and tones with subtlety. “Try and cast your mind back to when you took the photograph and remember what you actually saw”, she said.
The use of complementary and analogous colours was covered in some detail as Ruth encouraged members to be aware of how the colours work together, “painters will already aware of some of these techniques”, she said.
“Users of social media will be aware that people like very bright colours, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are good photographs”, Ruth said. Becoming more aware of the range of tones in an image is very important in black and white, and she recommended understanding the Ansel Adams zone system which helps to identify the tonal values of subjects and where they sit in the tonal range.
Ilkley Camera Club would like to thank Ruth for her excellent presentation. If you would like to know more about Ruth’s work you can visit her website here